Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Know It's True Because....

Dear Madame L,

Just like you said, and I hope you're very proud of me, I've been expanding my online news reading, so now I'm reading Politico every once in awhile. The seems to be a pretty fair-minded and unbiased source of news. For example, I just read that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NE) has announced a deal to end the FAA "impasse."

(By the way, Madame L, will you please sometime write a column about these words that are so over-used by political reporters, like "impasse"? Do you think they are even aware of how self-parodying they sound?)

Anyways, I also just read on Politco that because of the debt ceiling being raised, government debt is going to rise, and more people are going to be supported by our taxes, and we're going to turn into a socialist state of a bunch of loafers and good-for-nothings. Well, that's not exactly what they said, but it amounted to the same thing.

So, if it comes from Politico, do you believe it, Madame L?


You're Busted!

Dear Busted,

Madame L appreciates your going beyond your usual reading! However, Madame L doubts that you got all that far with Politico, for at least these two reasons:

First, Politico is owned by Allbritton Communications, which is owned by the Allbritton brothers, who also owned Riggs Bank (infamous for a bunch of scandals before it became part of PNC Financial Services). This communications conglomerate has been called the "east coast version of Koch Bros."

(By the way, Joe and his wife Barby, who own a horse farm in Upperville, VA, and thus have lots in common with the royal family, were among the very few of the Washington elite who were invited to the wedding of Wills and Kate. In fact, according to the Washington Post, "Charles is flying to D.C. in Allbritton’s private jet for an official visit the week after the wedding.")

(Oh, that reminds Madame L to wonder what kind of tax break Joe Allbritton is getting on his private jet!) 

Second, the writers and editors at that website aren't spending much time checking their facts. Apparently they hash together talking points from Republican Party press releases, and they call that news.

Here's an example: In that article you read, it said, "In the past four years, the average voter has grown more dependent on government for his or her income than at any point since at least 1929, when such numbers were first tracked.This means Social Security, Medicare and unemployment are the big income drivers – not new jobs and bigger salaries."

Most of the rise in spending will be going to "safety-net programs, which spend more in hard times because more people are in distress." Krugman provides a link to the Congressional Budget Office study he cites and then kindly also includes their figures in the form of an easy-to-understand graph, which he goes on to explain in detail.

He concludes, "Now, pointing out the Obama spending binge is a myth generally produces rage: people know that it happened, because Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal say so. But that doesn’t make it true."

Don't give up, though! Please keep reading, ever more broadly. Perhaps you would like to read Dr. Krugman's regular blog postings at the New York Times. Madame L might also suggest any or all of the interesting blogs at and the news articles and blogs at National Journal. 

(Madame L does not suggest such news sources as the Washington Post or ABC News online only because they plant tracking cookies and demand personal information before allowing the reader to access some articles.)

Madame L

1 comment:

AskTheGeologist said...

Yep. The Washington Post was the one thing I missed when we moved to the Left Coast in 2002. It has such a great Sunday Book World and Forward-looking news analysis insert (I think called "Outlook").

Sadly, I independently learned what Madame Elle pointed out: the Post uses almost criminal means to plant hooks in your computer and then market your information if you visit their site.

It just goes to prove that "There really ain't no such thing as a free lunch". I think Mark Twain or Will Rogers said that.

Anything that is offered for FREE... just ISN'T.